Breastfeeding a Micro-Preemie after Loss of a Twin

I was 20 weeks pregnant with non identical twin boys. Something felt wrong about 1pm in the afternoon the pregnancy had been difficult with frequent bleeding. I went to hospital and got checked but the Dr didn’t really take me seriously as I had no pain no bleeding just a gut feeling of dread and that something was wrong the Dr decided I was stressed because of my previous pregnancy where I delivered a precious baby boy Blake who was already sleeping at 38 weeks the year before.
I went home alone as my partner was working at 10:30pm the pain started. I called an ambulance and was rushed to hospital they tried and tried to stop labour but after 24 hours my Dr told me they could do no more and the babies were coming. With my mum and partner in the room 3 hours later a tiny little breech baby boy arrived weighing a 997 grams which for 20 weeks is quite big. I was not prepared to hear Steven cry, a tiny cry, but a cry. I assumed it would be another silent babe. He died in my arms age 6 minutes.
Then nothing happened my labour stopped. The options were discussed induction to deliver bub 2 or to wait they were talking around me not too me. I laid holding my second lifeless baby in just less than a year. I heard myself start screaming you are not taking my baby. I was screaming and yelling. In that moment my partner realised there was no way medically we could deliver the 2nd baby. It was decided to try tilting the bed and remaining on an angle bum up to try and buy baby 2 time however ultrasound showed he was only 300 grams. I was given blood transfusion and antibiotics and after 24 hours moved to the antenatal ward. I was told I would receive steroids at 24 weeks. I laid upside down for 3 1/2 weeks until my water broke at 3.19 am and all hell broke lose as my tiny bub tried to be born breech, through a very undulated cervix. I was rushed to theatre with a nurse holding him in.
I woke to the news my baby had survived the birth and was 698 grams and they were taking him off the ventilator he was 23 weeks 5 days. I was so scared as I thought they were taking him off the ventilator to die. But no my little fighter was taking his own breaths and was put on CPAP. I was wheeled around to see him 12 hours later. He was so tiny. I saw him for less than 2 minutes. On day 2 I spent hours with him but was discouraged from touching him.

His skin was see through and his eyes still fused shut.

The first 2 weeks he had an umbilical line amongst the many tubes and leads that fed him. At 6 days I became very distressed by the NICU experience and his beautiful nurse fought for me to hold my son. I held him wrapped in a blanket. For 2 amazing hours I didn’t hold him again until her was 3 weeks old but the nurses taught me how to change his nappy and wash his face and I got into the habit of stroking him and reading to him. I had a great milk supply and would carry his tiny singlets in my bra so they smelt like me when he wore them and I pumped every 3 hours for 20 minutes each side. At 2 weeks they started feeding him via a nasal gastric tube, he had 1 ml every 2 hours. His feeds graded up as he tolerated them. He did amazingly. At 23 days old he was laid at the breast in a skin to skin cuddle it was the 3rd time I had held him. And whilst he was far to young to suck or even lick at the breast having his lips at my nipple and his tiny body skin to skin with me was beneficial for us both. From that day he was kangaroo cuddled skin to skin every day. At 32 weeks 4 days he transferred from level 3 to level 2.

At 33 weeks we started offering suck feeds.

He didn’t suck but he did lick at the breast and my supply was slowing but milk would drip at him holding that tiny sweet baby was great for stimulating let down. At 34 weeks he latched and started sucking at the breast by this point my supply was low the up and down roller coaster of NICU was taking it’s toll on me. I just wanted to be a mum. He was having no other support from oxygen or heating and was just a growing prem learning to feed I was advised to allow bottle feeding to get him on suck feeds faster, luckily I had a huge stash of breast milk frozen as Matty got so tired feeding from the breast but did great at bottles. When got him on all suck feeds even though they weren’t all breast feeds and he was allowed home at 37 weeks on breast feeds with a shield and with EBM top ups. Matty never learned to latch without the shield and in those early weeks at home he was up and down with feeding. He got reflux so we started thickening his bottles then he got constipated from the thickener so medicine for that was necessary. We started solids at 9 months old which was 5 months corrected. We were supported by speech therapist, and a lactation consultant, and prelude were a god send. He was breast fed until 18 months (14 months corrected).
And this is him today.